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Australian Permanent Residency vs Australian Citizenship

Whilst being a permanent resident of Australia, you will be able to enjoy a great deal of freedom, there are some things you can only do when you are an Australian citizen. We will go through the difference between the two in this article.

Who is a permanent resident?

To be come a permanent resident, you will have to apply for a visa that will allow you to live in Australia permanently. Some of the key permanent residency visas include Skilled Independent visa (Subclass 189), Skilled Nominated Visa (Subclass 190), Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186), and Business Innovation and Investment Permanent visa (Subclass 888).

Applicants who hold a permanent resident visa can stay in Australia permanently, work and study, enrol in Medicare, travel to and from Australia for 5 years and sponsor relatives.

Who is a citizen?

The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 sets out the law on who is and who can become an Australian citizen.  In Australia, citizenship can be acquired automatically or by application.

Ways to become an Australian Citizen include:

  • Citizenship by birth
  • Citizenship by descent
  • Citizenship by adoption under a law in force in a State or Territory
  • Citizenship by conferral.

For many migrants, the most common way to become an Australian citizen is via citizenship by conferral. Generally, to apply for citizenship by conferral, you must be a permanent resident for the last 12 months and have been living in Australia on a valid visa for the past 4 years. If you are under 60 years old, you would also be required to sit a citizenship test.

What can an Australian citizen do that a permanent resident cannot?

Rights and Privileges Australian Citizen Australian Permanent Resident
Vote during election Yes No
Run for election Yes No
Federal government jobs Yes No
Consulate support Yes No
Student Loan Yes A PR may be eligible to pay domestic school fees. However, you would not be able to apply for HECS- HELP loan.
Travel A citizen can be overseas indefinitely. Usually PR has 5 years travel facility attached to their visa. You would have to renew the travel facility every 5 years.
Australian passport Yes No
Deportation No Yes
Government benefits e.g. Jobkeeper, Jobseeker Yes In most cases, a PR is eligible, but eligibility depends on the rules set by the government.
New Zealand residency (on arrival) Yes Yes
Children’s citizenship eligibility Yes Yes

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